2022 was far more of a transition year than I realized. I got to spend a huge amount of time focused on family and friends. I had great work coupled with the flexibility to start building the routine that I wanted. Looking back, there isn’t much I would change. Except, of course, my attitude. And myself.
“You want to know how to paint a perfect painting? It’s easy. Make yourself perfect and then just paint naturally.” -Robert Pirsig
Nobody’s perfect. But introspection is one of those funny things, kind of like “the more you know, the more you realize you don’t know.” The more you introspect, the more you pick yourself apart. Actually in the connected world of modern times that statement is more like “the more you compare yourself to what others broadcast online, the more you pick yourself apart.”
2023 is going to be an epic year. I’ve got quite a list going here. A mantra of sorts I’ve built over the last couple of years is: I want to focus on doing. And so I’m tired of worrying about how “the doing” is perceived or how I am comparing. I’ve become more aware of the mimetic rivalry that social media causes.. and I’m at least as susceptible as everybody else.
Putting yourself out there - broadcasting yourself - isn’t the problem here. The production part is great. It’s good to write, to publish, to produce content, or to build things and make them public. The problem is the constant social rent-seeking treadmill that prestige, consumption, and comparison produce. Social media companies are fueled by this (check out this book for some depth on the problem).
And so the goals list starts off with a couple of doozy’s.
Get Off Social Media
Caput. Done. I deleted FB ages ago, so the only things that are really left are Instagram and Twitter.
This comes with two gigantic and possibly hypocritical caveats.
- I have in mind to continue selling wood cutting boards and serving trays, which I started doing on Instagram. I’ve been thinking of building a store separate from my personal account to do this. But IG and my personal account are gone.
- Twitter is amazing, and yep that’s true both pre- and post-Elon. It’s where I get my news and all sorts of interesting ideas. But I use it in a purely consumptive way right now. No conversations, just endless scrolling.
The point here is to use these tools to be productive. Not consumptive and narcissistic and performative.
Engage on Twitter
I’ve got some new projects lined up and I plan on pushing them out to the public. That doesn’t just mean dumping them and moving on, it also means having conversations and building up relationships. I don’t really have any internet-first friends. In the past, I would have said this is a good thing. But zero doesn’t seem like the right number. The biggest pool of interesting and intellectually curious people with similar interests is on the Internet. The year 2023 is no time to be intellectually lonely.
This goal was originally “build 1,000 Twitter followers”. But that just feeds back into the more typical social media cycle. I think there’s a way to use these tools in a more positive way, and I want to learn it.
I want to do all of this pseudonymously. As silly as it sounds, my real name limits what I talk about. And the older I get, the more expectation goes along with everything. PG once said that “eminence is like a suit: it impresses the wrong people and constrains the wearer.” (This quote is super ironic considering one of my other goals.) Depending on where you are in life, your name and experience can do the same damn thing. Pseudonyms are a convenient trick to escape this problem. If I write a book it will be under a pseudonym. Same with a new product. Or a conference talk. Whatever.
This website has always been my little internet garden. And here it will remain for posterity. But it’s already mirrored under a pseudonymous domain, with a pseudonymous email and a pseudonymous Twitter handle. As a personal blog, both will remain (it’s the same repo, and I can
git push from two separate branches for deploys). The point is: one will be connected to whatever else I do on the Internet and one will not.
Take Smaller Bets
My wife (rightly) has pointed out that I have a need to do these big, grand things. I can’t just “run” for fun, I have to have a crazy time goal or a big challenge. Go big or go home right? Sometimes this works and I get myself psyched and go big.
But sometimes I go home. No bueno.
It’s time to chill out a bit and break things down into smaller projects. For example, if I want a second revenue source I don’t need to go get a giant SBA loan and buy some company, I just need to start something small and see what grows. My wife is a perfect example of this. She’s building a nice little home organizing business (her second biz) from little steps over and over.
CollegeValue will be the first. I’m not going to keep building privately under the veil of anonymity until it’s perfect. I’m just going to release it, warts and all. Then we’ll see what sticks, if anything, and iterate.
Do Just One Thing
I’ve had some different versions of this before. It’s so easy to go into context switching mode and try to do All Of The Things. But when you do all the things you do none of the things. And then you feel like a useless lump. Stop it. (This is another thing that social media makes far worse for everybody.)
Ok! We’ve gotten those out of the way. What’s next? Let’s start with..
A Successful and Amazing RV Trip
We’re taking a completely insane RV trip for three weeks this summer! It’s not just insane because we’ve never done anything like this, and it’s a rented RV, and who the hell knows how to dump-and-pump anyway, and it’s something like 6,000 miles of driving. No, no, no.. it’s also insane because a bunch of beach people are voluntarily leaving the sand in the middle of summer. Our kids are seriously afraid that their gills will dry out.
Anyway, we’re going all the way across to California, dropping in for a great wedding, and driving all the way back. It’s something like 20 states and 9 National Parks. The goal is to have fun, relax, and enjoy traveling. I will of course try to write and photograph the entire way.
Fly Somewhere (if we have the chance)
I wrote about this already, but I screwed up royally last year. I realized some things and started working them out. Now, I need to get back on this particular saddle. There’s a bunch of variables here - including cost and time and places we actually want to go - but if the time is right, I want to go on a quick trip somewhere with just my wife and explore a new city. Maybe Nashville. Or Austin. Or New Orleans.
Dress For Work
I’m very fortunate in the amount of flexibility I have in work. And let’s face it, I’m a sweatpants and shorts kind of guy. I’ve believed for awhile the trope-y line that “the man in the suit is impressive until you realize he works for the man in sweatpants.”
My son just started in a new school this year, though, and I’ve been dropping him off most days. He has to wear a shirt and tie and belt daily. And I’ve noticed something about all those boys that I’ve really known all along but had to forget and then relearn: how you dress helps define how you think of yourself. It isn’t about impressing others. It’s about holding yourself to the standard you deserve. I’ve pushed the casual boundary a little too far. But I’ve realized it, so time to reset.
No change here. 50 books or so, about a book a week. That’s an average speed over the whole year. God forbid you sign up to a forced schedule like Lex and get called out over that bullshit. What a silly thing.
Come on dude. This should be a near daily habit by now. Why so hard?
“Be regular and orderly in your life, so that you may be violent and original in your work.” -Gustave Flaubert
Life is a mix of feast, famine, and daily routines. Seize each and let them carry you.
I’m a feast or famine kind of guy - either totally on or totally off. In daily routine, there’s bits of this I really want to smooth out. On the other hand, I think there’s places where I can really lean-in to how I work naturally.
Fasting is one of them. Fasting has been shown to have incredible health benefits and it manifests as a spiritual act too. The goal here is to fast at least once a month. They’ll start small and hopefully get bigger. I’ve done a 3 day fast before and that was potent. Others have said 5 day fasts are amazing. Let’s find out.
I’m one fast in already this year.
Make Dinner On School Days
My wife is amazing and has been focused on home life since our kids were born. But our youngest is in kindergarten now and my wife has time again and she’s starting her own gig back up which means home isn’t 100% of her focus All The Time. That’s great for her sanity and our balance. It means it’s a good time for me to step up too. I always say I want to eat healthier but that involves tedious things like cooking and shopping. Pizza is so much easier.
Pizza is fine on the weekends but nutritious dinners made with real food is something Dad can handle. With real plants grown in dirt and animals even. While the kids are doing their homework at the kitchen table, most days I want to be in the kitchen cooking dinner.
Alcohol On Weekends
Along with the pizza, beer and whiskey and wine need to be relegated back to the weekend. This is a Covid habit that has perpetuated too long.
Dirty Dozen at 225
Time to get into the athletic portion of the program. These sorts of goals get more fun as I get older. 8 minute miles are something 25 or 30 year olds more commonly do, not 40-somethings.
The Dirty Dozen is 12 reps of 225 bench press. I’ve done that plenty of times before, but this year I want to do it at no more than 225 lbs bodyweight. That makes it a more compound and complex goal and I’ll have to keep paying attention to those weekday dinners, along with the rest of my calorie intake. It would be great to run a sub-8 minute mile the same day too.
Drop a Minute on 5k Time
We did a Hair Of The Dog 5k on New Years’ Day. The holidays were not kind to me physically (all that delicious food..) and I ran a 26:04. That’s on the slower, disappointing side of things. I’d like to get that back below 25:04 or really into the 24s. Most importantly, I want to do it at the same race next year! Instead of training to have a peak and one fast time, I’d like to get back to a place where I can run a sub-25 5k even in my post-holiday cookie stupor. That would be an achievement.
Get One V3
I’m not totally sure about this one yet, but my kids seem to like rock climbing. We just joined a gym and I’ll be using the weight room there. I’m a bigger guy and I’ve never been particularly good at this. But it’s fun. And a new challenge. New challenges are extra fun. I can do some V1 bouldering routes and I got one V2. I’d love to get a V3 this year. Sounds simple but non-trivial.
Learn To Surf
My son got surfing lessons last summer with our cousin and he popped right up on the board and rode waves all the way to the sand like the 55 lb muscle machine that he is.
I couldn’t even catch a wave. Some of that was definitely the board I was using, but it was still so fun that I want to give it another go. For the purposes of 2023, “learning to surf” will mean being able to catch some waves, get on both feet and ride them in. Let’s go Wingnut!
Build a Larger Piece of Furniture
A lot of this year was focused on workshop needs or smaller items like cutting boards and mallets. I’d like to get back to some real furniture. I want to make matching maple slab tables for our living room and I’d love to build a full king bed. A bandsaw and some other fun upgrades are incoming that will help this a lot.
Get A New Suit
This was going to be a goal anyway, but then haha my wife decided to run my one nice blue suit that she looooooves through the washer and dryer. I guess she doesn’t love it so much any more.
Dressing up is all about how you feel about yourself. I’ve only ever had one good suit and the reason I haven’t gotten another in years is probably because I don’t feel good enough about myself to get one. How’s that for a fit of honesty.
So that’s the goal this year: feel good enough about how I look and be confident enough that I will _stay that way_to go get a custom-tailored and James Bond-level suit.
Foster a Social Intellectual Group
I love talking to people about interesting things. I have some good friends that I get together with or email 1-on-1 and we talk about the craziest shit. (Happily, my wife is #1 on this list.) I also think these kinds of people are hard to find.
The top MFM episode (you really need to try this podcast out..) this year was on the MFM Camp. They pulled a bunch of connections and friends and got a set of super-interesting people together for a weekend, including Mr. Beast. They played basketball with an NBA trainer and hung out and talked about life and business. There were all sorts of different backgrounds there, but there were some common threads: they were all entrepreneurial, very successful, driven, honest and very curious.
Everyone needs more of this. Not small talk or bar scenes or popular crowds. We need to mix things up and cross boundaries and make new connections talking about things that matter.
There are Christian and Catholic versions of this that are more common. Bible Studies. Men’s Groups. Retreats. They’re great. But I want something less narrow.
I have no idea what this means right now.. it’s just a bunch of random swirl around my brain stem. But it’s an idea that I want to make more concrete in the world.
OK, that’s plenty for one year. Cheers!